A Better Father

“You are fine. Shake it off.”

.     .     .     .

Four years ago, I would have reacted differently if AJ (then 3-years-old) had begun to spontaneously limp and complain of posterior right knee pain in weight bearing and discomfort with active full knee extension.

But last night, on Father’s Day, I acted like every dad should. When Tori began to cry and limp after rising from the floor after playing with her toys, I held her in my arms, even though I knew there was “nothing wrong”. I asked her to point to where it hurt; I asked her to take my finger and point to the spot on her leg that was uncomfortable. I gently tried to help her straighten her knee without luck. We sat there cuddling for a few moments with my hands on her leg, doing nothing.

“I’m sorry that you hurt, but it is okay.
Everything is healthy and it will feel better in the morning.”

Last night, she received a playful piggy-back ride to the bathroom sink, where she stood on one leg to brush her teeth. She was tickled as she was swung side-to-side into her bedroom, giggling all the way – but she kept her knee flexed throughout. We laid on her bed, instead of sitting on the floor, to read her books before bed. She chose one story about Caillou, another about Clifford. I asked her to lay on her belly beside me and I purposefully read the stories wrong so that she could correct me (she has them memorized, after all). Before I was done with the first story, her knee was straight and she was still smiling.

After her stories were complete, I tucked her under her covers, kissed her on her forehead, and said, “Good night, hon. Sweet dreams – I love you.”

She woke up this morning and her knee pain was gone – or at least I assume it was; I didn’t ask and she didn’t limp.

.     .     .     .

She says that luke-warm bath-water is too hot, the dustbuster is too loud, the marinade is too spicy and the sun is too bright. One day she can also say that her father listens and allows her to express herself without judgement. Granted, she is only 4-years-old, and I understand that self-expression and understanding is something that she probably doesn’t appreciate today, but I know of no better way to improve her chances of having a happy and successful tomorrow.

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